PROMOTED VALE HAVE LOFTY AMBITIONS
PORT VALE captain Doug Loft says the promoted Valiants haven’t finished yet – and he tips them to be a real force next season too.
Promotion from League Two was all-but secured with a 2-2 draw at home to Northampton last weekend with most of the 12,496 crowd – the biggest at Vale Park in 15 years – spilling out onto the pitch at the end.
Former Brighton midfielder Loft admits the relief of the fans was matched by that of the players, especially considering he was one of just three professionals who turned up for pre-season training last summer with the club on its knees financially.
But after leading a side made up almost entirely of free transfers and loans to their first promotion in 19 years, and celebrating the birth of his second daughter, Amelie, at the end of March, life is sweet for Loft.
“I think given the rewards at the end of it, this has to be the best season of my career,” he said.
“Last season and this season I’ve played the best football, but winning promotion has been the icing on the cake.
“My daughter was born on the morning of the Cheltenham game, so it’s been a great couple of weeks. There’s been a few sleepless nights, but it’s been great.
“It’s a feeling of relief really, we didn’t play as well as we could have against Northampton but we managed to get over the line.
“Vale haven’t been promoted in a long time, and it was a brilliant atmosphere at that game and against Burton, especially considering where we have been.
“I was one of the three players that was at the club at the start of the season. I was thinking:‘What the hell is going on?’ I had no idea what was going to happen, to be honest, but the boss (Micky Adams) did a good job in getting a squad together on free transfers and it’s a really nice ending to the season.
“He made me captain as well which was a shock, but I was delighted.
“I’ve said before though that the hard work is to come. Getting promotion is all well and good but Port Vale are a big club and they deserve to be in a higher league.”
It says a lot about the ability of boss Micky Adams that by the time Vale were taken over by new owner Paul Wildes in November and came out of administration, they were still in second place.
The season has been a battle with eventual champi- ons Gillingham, and despite falling short it wasn’t the end of the world for boyhood Gills fan Loft.
“I used to go and watch them as a kid with my dad and brother, but I’ve not been since I was 14,” said Loft. “It was a bit strange battling with them this season, but it’s nice to see them go up as well. Obviously I would have preferred us to go up as champions, that was always my aim, but I’m still proud of what we’ve achieved.
“There’s a brilliant structure at the club now, from the owner to the manager, we’re going in the right direction and there’s a real buzz around the place.
“We’ve got all the right ingredients and, given the right signings in the summer, we could do well. The days of administration seem a long time ago now.”
WHO’S THE DADDY? Doug Loft